HC Deb 19 March 1929 vol 226 c1602

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount raised by customs tariffs per capita in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France, and Germany, respectively, for the last year for which figures are available?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Churchill)

The amounts in question are estimated as follow:

  • For the United Kingdom, £2 9s. 3d.
  • For the United States of America, $4.81.
  • For France, Francs 117.
  • For Germany, Marks 20.
I should, however, warn the House that such comparisons of the yield per head of the customs tariffs in different countries are apt to be altogether misleading and require to be utilised with caution. A low; revenue yield may result either from a low rate of duty or from a prohibitively high rate of duty. Some customs duties are countervailed by excise duties and others are not. Further, account should be taken of differences in the system of collection; for instance, the duties on tobacco are levied in some countries solely on the importation of the leaf, and in other countries are levied partly on importation of the leaf and partly, as excise duties, on the manufactured tobacco. I may add that of the British figure of £2 9s. 3d. per head £2 3s. 1d. is accounted for by duties which are avowedly revenue duties. In fact more than one-half of the figure is due to tobacco alone.


May we understand that after making allowance for countervailing or excise duties this country has the largest per capita Customs revenue in Europe?


I think that any deductions to be drawn from the facts mentioned in my answer should be made in the light of the reservations and explanations attached to that answer.